52 Tasting Notes
I’m melting, melting I say! I am one of those weirdos who prefers colder climes and winter to the heat and humidity of summer. The season’s barely started and I’m already feeling swampy and sluggish. Bleh. Wistfully dreaming of the days when I could travel to cooler parts of the world.
At least I have some energising tea to keep me going. I’m dipping into this Golden Needle from my local shop today and it’s pretty good initially, but I think I do just prefer more mature buds when it comes to black teas. I find the younger Chinese black teas to release most of their essence in the first couple infusions leaving my wanting for more. Maybe Golden Needle is just better brewed Western style? Will have to give it a go. Anyway, the flavour profile is sort of a mix between earthy/mineral notes, malt, and honey, but the wet leaves aroma is way stronger than the flavour unfortunately. It actually reminds me of some sheng pu-erhs I’ve tried strangely. Lubricating mouth feel though and decent amount of caffeine I think. Ultimately this won’t be my go-to black tea in the future, but I’m still glad I tried it.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral
I’m really in the mood to create something today so I’ve decided to just dive into making a tea board/table to use at work. I have some pine and I think oak planks that I can use. Mind you, I have absolutely no wood working skills whatsoever, but there’s no time like the present to learn something new, right? If any of you reading this know where I can find some good DIY instructions for a tea board please link me!
The tea I’m concurrently drinking was one of the samples provided in my last purchase. I usually don’t opt for flavoured black teas, but this one is pretty decent. I am a sucker for lychee fruit too which helps. Not much I can really say about this tea other than it’s sweet and fruity. I like it better than some of the fruit blends and flavourings I’ve tried from other companies, and thankfully the lychee flavouring doesn’t taste chemical. The tea leaves are somewhat broken and unimpressive, so I’m thinking it’s just bottom of the bag leaves tossed with flavouring. Probably wouldn’t buy this as I still prefer a pure black tea, but if you like flavoured teas this is a good choice.
I went for a late walk last night around my neighbourhood and couldn’t believe how delicious the air smelled. There are many fragrant trees and bushes around, particularly lilacs! It was so lovely to discover as this is my first Spring/Summer that I’m living in this area. I caught myself daydreaming about it at work today too and thought it was only fitting that I dive into a sweet and floral tea.
Believe it or not, this is the first “Oriental Beauty” oolong I’ve tried. I’ve heard many good things about this cultivar over the years and can finally say that I understand the hype! This particular harvest is very well balanced and really hits all my favourite oolong notes. This is certainly a contender for new favourite oolong!
The liquor is a gorgeous rose tinted caramel kind of colour. Not the thickest, but incredibly smooth and lubricating. The flavour though!!!! Oh man, it’s so yummy. It’s got some honey and sugarcane going on, stone fruits like peach, nectarine, and apricot, and the perfect level of orchid-like floral note. Further infusions bring out more of a wet stone kind of flavour that I’ve more experienced in a Da Hong Pao. The only area that I would say it can improve on is in the number of pots I can brew before the flavour tapers off. I can get it up to about the minute mark before it just sharply drops. I guess that’s pretty good, but compared to the Silver Needle and Sheng I recently bought its life is shorter. Will definitely keep exploring this kind of oolong, I imagine other companies have great examples of it too.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Orchids, Peach, Sugarcane, Wet Rocks
This morning has been beautiful and sunny, and I’ve decided to pair the day with an organic Silver Needle white that I’ve not actually tried before. As with yesterday’s sheng, this came from a local tea house in my city. Aside from knowing it’s good quality tea, it is also just a good feeling supporting a local business in these uncertain times. A part of me does want to order some pu-erh from China though, I wish I could get what I want locally. Oh well.
My first impression of this tea is that it is one of the more delicate Silver Needles I’ve drunk. The dry aroma threw me off at first, as it mostly just smelled of fresh hay or sweet grass, but not in a stale sort of way thankfully. It took a couple infusions to really wake this tea up, but once it did a very soft honey and peppercorn flavour arose. It’s not spicy like some peppery profiles though, just smooth and sweet. The leaves also turned from their eponymous silver hue to a lovely blue-ish mint green once the pekoe fuzz washed away. Beautiful to look at. Hints of sweet broth started to shine through around the fourth or fifth brewed pot as well, but nowhere near the intensity of some greener teas I’ve tried. Seems like a well balanced tea overall. I probably won’t buy it again though, as I do prefer a bit of a stronger flavour to my whites.
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Peppercorn, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass
I’m so so SO happy to be drinking real tea again. I was given a disgustingly large amount of David’s Tea blends as a gift and have just recently finished that mountain of mediocrity. Sadly no one I knew wanted any of it either, so I was stuck drinking it for many months (I don’t like being wasteful). Anyway, an order I placed with my local Chinese tea shop arrived yesterday afternoon and I am now at peace with my stash once more!
Today I’m trying this loose leaf aged purple sheng. I bought this with caution as many loose leaf pu-erhs I’ve tried didn’t live up their compressed counterparts, but I can happily report that this is in fact quite a good pu-erh, especially given that it’s only been ageing since 2009. The leaves are quite dark brown and black with a soft bluish huge to them. Pretty to look at, and lovely to smell! The wet aroma in the pot is one of wood and smoke with a strange sort of raisin-nuttiness to it. Reminds me of pecan pie for some reason, although not sweet at all. The flavour though is something I truly was not expecting from such a young tea. The first pot had a deep smokiness to it like a burning campfire or nice aged whisky, followed by a tart tobacco/leathery aftertaste. The flavours almost entirely overpowered the bitterness to the extent that I hardly noticed any at first. I also found it to be quite lubricating and not really astringent as described by others. Consecutive infusions coaxed out more of an oatmeal and chocolate flavour while staying smooth and rich.
Perhaps this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as the flavours are certainly bold, bitter, and not sweet, but I quite liked it. Great to drink on a rainy day like today, it pairs very well with lightning storms haha!
Flavors: Chocolate, Leather, Oats, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Wood
This was a reject from what my mother bought the other week, she hates it. Basically it’s a cherry/fruit drink with measly amounts of oolong tea sprinkled throughout. I spent about three minutes trying to pick a decent amount of the oolong out of the pouch so I can get an idea of what it actually tastes like!
Surprisingly, I think they used something that’s very close to a Da Hong Pao. There’s a strong aged wood note alongside a sort of wet stone flavour. It actually does accompany the deep cherry flavour very well. It’s just a shame they don’t include more tea in each pouch, something that seems to be a trend with blends from this company.
Made some excellent iced tea with this though, I think it tastes better that way than hot to be frank. Won’t be buying this in the future, but the flavour is pretty decent.
Flavors: Cherry, Wet Rocks, Wood
As with the last two teas I reviewed, I never know what to really expect from David’s Tea. This has definitely turned out to be a dessert/special occasion tea that won’t be used every day.
The bergamot flavour is intense, possibly the most potent of any Earl Grey I’ve tried. I literally cannot taste the black tea though as the blend is so loaded with bold ingredients! The most dominant flavours, aside from the citrus notes, are chocolate, caramel, and milk — very sweet and creamy. Mouth feel is thick, silky, and smooth, with an almost peppermint-like cooling sensation accompanying a spicy bergamot aftertaste. I think this is the perfect tea for people who tend to add milk and sugar to their tea, as it has both of those added already.
Surprisingly, I would order this again, but if anything I’d wait until winter. It’s probably the best hybrid between a hot chocolate and tea that I’ve drunk, can picture sipping it next to the fireplace on a cold evening.
Flavors: Bergamot, Caramel, Chocolate, Milk, Spicy
So this one was a really pleasant surprise, wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I love goji berries and I love oolong so I went for it. Thankfully this blend has a good amount of camellia sinensis, the Seaberry Spa “white tea” I reviewed the other day was severely lacking actual tea, kind of funny actually.
I decided to brew this in a gaiwan. First thing I noticed is how fragrant the tea is, it smells sweet, floral, fruity, and a bit spicy even. The oolong base they’ve chosen is really nice, I think it works well with the ginseng and goji berries. They’ve also added honey, and I’m not mad about it at all. It helps highlight the goji and ginseng notes and just really ties everything together. The floral notes are very reminiscent of other strong orchid smelling oolongs, but I can’t tell how much of it is coming from the oolong and how much is from the marigold blossoms and other ingredients. Super tasty either way.
This also came out absolutely phenomenal as iced tea, going to be making a big pitcher full soon.
Flavors: Ginger, Goji, Honey, Medicinal, Orchids
I normally don’t buy David’s Tea because I find they mostly make novelty tea blends rife with sweeteners and added flavouring. With that said, my mother is a big fan of their products and informed me that they have an ongoing sale for 70% off discontinued blends. For that kind of discount I couldn’t say no to chipping in on an order.
The first product I’ve tried is called Seaberry Spa, which is a very fruity and fragrant white tea blend. In fact, I think there are more tisane and fruit ingredients than actual white tea in the pouch (does that make this herbal tea?). I’ve brewed this three times so far, both Western and gong fu, the former having a more desirable outcome (flavour didn’t evolve at all with gong fu), and once as iced tea as well.
The taste is actually pretty good, better than anticipated. For the longest time I was trying to figure out what it reminded me of until finally it hit me that this blend emulates classic fruity bubble gum, but with a hint of licorice and ginger thrown in. An interesting change from the pure/un-blended teas I normally drink, that’s for sure. It’s a very in-your-face kind of experience though, I think the added flavouring really adds a punch. As far as white tea goes though, this is nowhere close to as good as others I have in my collection. I think this really shines as an iced tea though, it’s just delicious and refreshing.
Would I buy this again? Probably not, but it’s certainly nice as a treat!
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Ginger, Licorice
Spring has been late to start this year. This morning the temperature clocked in at a measly 8°C, but at least the trees are in full bloom and tiny baby leaves have started popping out. The perfect scenery for a day off work with a good long tea session if you ask me.
Since this tea has been sitting around since the turn of the millennium I gave it a decent wash. Happily, a concentrated honeyed raisin and fig aroma filled the air around me without even having to get my nose close to the teapot!
The first pot produced a lovely deep orange and caramel colour liquor, although it wasn’t as pungent as the wet leaves. The taste gave me a really good idea of the flavours to come in additional brews though. The fig and raisin becomes accompanied by a slight medicinal or herbal flavour (perhaps like ginseng extract), a very subtle smokey grass note, and a lovely pop of black peppercorn or nasturtium flower/spice on the sides of the tongue. It’s also just incredibly smooth. No astringency, thick mouth-feel, and a powerful wash of Qi over the whole body. By the end of the third pot I was definitely giddy and tea drunk.
Overall this has shot to the top of my list of favourite pu-erhs. Absolutely phenomenal, I could drink this all day every day. If you have never tried this tea do yourself a favour and at the very least grab a sample. It’s a brilliant example of how rich an aged sheng can be. You can really taste the love and passion that went into this.
Flavors: Fig, Flowers, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Raisins, Smoke, Spices